Finding Ways to Thrive: Senior Living During a Pandemic

Apr 16, 2021 | Health & Wellness, Life At Sunset

For over a year, our staff and residents have been diligently following protocols like handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing to help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Like many other senior living communities, we faced the challenge of following health protocols to mitigate risks while helping residents stay engaged to minimize feeling lonely or isolated, especially since visitors weren’t allowed for a significant period of time. Social distancing has been exceptionally tough for our family-like communities, like it has been for everyone across the world.

Some of the many benefits of living in a senior community are the opportunities to be active and engaged with friends and neighbors. At first, COVID-19 seemed to make these opportunities nearly impossible. However, knowing how critical they are to the well-being of our residents, we buckled down to figure out how to provide safe opportunities for life enrichment and keep residents connected with each other and their families. Our amazing staff went above and beyond to keep spirits up while still following all health and social distancing guidelines. Here are some of the ways we’ve been staying connected and active.

Staying Connected

Our Life Enrichment teams came up with a plethora of creative ideas for residents to connect and find joy. A highlight of everyone’s day soon became the goodies delivered door-to-door! Many deliveries arrived with a special theme or included a fun delivery method. Residents received treats like ballpark hotdogs (with ballpark music playing, of course), a cabana beach day treat, and ice cream novelties from a hand-crafted ice cream truck!

Our staff helped set up Zoom calls, Google Hangouts, and Facetime sessions. And it’s been amazing to watch residents learn and adapt to using new technology to make video calls and talk face-to-face with loved ones.

Staying Active

Our communities have always been active, and residents still had opportunities to participate in activities they love—just virtually. The Recreation Therapy Department hosted virtual cooking classes. Ingredients were delivered to residents’ homes, and the residents turned on their televisions and followed along!

Virtual bingo was also a favorite activity. Brookcrest even hosted a weeklong virtual UNO tournament. Congratulations to Betty on being the UNO champion!

Thankfully, residents were still able to enjoy most outdoor activities. Fishing, gardening, playing shuffleboard, outdoor concerts, and joining in on special themed activities like Summer Camp week were just a few of the ways residents stayed active during the warmer months of 2020.

Benefits of Community

Research on senior health has shown that older adults who socialize, work, volunteer, and exercise report the highest levels of well-being and happiness. One survey found that senior living residents were two to five times more likely than non-residents to participate in social events, try new activities, get together with friends, eat with other people, exercise, and spend more time with family.

Senior living communities like Sunset create opportunities to build this sense of community and belonging. Even while following all health protocols and social distancing guidelines, we found ways to connect, stay active, and help our communities thrive.

About Sunset

As one of the largest Christian-based nonprofit organizations in West Michigan, Sunset provides trusted, high quality senior care and living facilities. With options for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, in-home care, and rehabilitation, we are proud to offer nurturing environments to fit a variety of lifestyles and needs.